Remembrance event held in August for 80th anniversary of Kristallnacht

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AUGUSTA, Maine (WABI) - The Holocaust and Human Rights Center of Maine held an event Friday in remembrance of the 80th anniversary of Kristallnacht, an attack by Nazis that many consider to be the start of the Holocaust.

On that "Night of Broken Glass" in Germany, over 200 synagogues were burned, thousands of Jews were deported to concentration camps, and an estimated 91 Jews were killed.

"It's important to remember the lessons of the Holocaust, to inspire each one of us to take moral responsibility to confront prejudice and discrimination wherever we see it before it turns into violence," says Shenna Bellows, Executive Director of the Holocaust & Human Rights Center of Maine.

Two Holocaust survivors from Maine spoke at the event, Edith Lucas Pagelson and Charles Rotmil.

"I myself was interrogated once by the Gestapo," says Rotmil. "I was in a house with other people, and we were awoken by a Gestapo man gun to my face shouting 'down,' 'up.'"

"And I showed up in the living room, and there were other men and women there," says Rotmil. "And they were interrogated and then put on a truck. When my turn came, I was frozen with fear. I couldn't talk and they let me go. So I was lucky at that point."

Edith Lucas Pagelson was only 12 years old at the start of the war.

"Then came the S.S. and arrested my father," says Pagelson. "When he came back, he was an old man, and he lost all his hopes that we could ever leave Germany."

Both Rotmil and Pagelson teach people about the Holocaust all across the state. Pagelson gives people these reminders.

"Number 1, I said hate is the worst thing," says Pagelson. "And then I said, I know this is a free country, but I said, do not abuse the free."